This news was posted on Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
tagged: Fitness, Technology, Tips, Wellness | tags :

Exercise Smart Phone App Review Series; RunKeeper

Welcome to the second installment of the Exercise Software App Review Series. This time we review the pros and cons of RunKeeper by FitnessKeeper, Inc.
Just as with the last exercise tracking software I reviewed last month, Walk Tracker Pro, RunKeeper tracks distance using the phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS). It must be turned on in the Settings of the phone, IPhone or Android (not on Kindle Fire, sorry; this requires Google Play to run). There is a free version of RunKeeper which is a great starting point. If you are the type that wants more than just some basics, the price points vary from $9.99 up to $39.99 for the Elite version with several price points in between. You will need one of these upgrades is you want to compare from one workout to another.

It is very easy to use, just click on start and let it record where you go, how fast you travel, and the calories you burn. Unfortunately, their web site is just as simple and does not contain much useful information such as the operating system versions it needs to run or what options you get with the various price points. I had to get some of this information off reviewer web sites instead. Inside the phone app, you may start the music you previously downloaded to the phone but it keeps playing if you pause, stop, or even close the app. To stop the music, you must enter the music app on the phone and stop it there. During the exercise you can see your route, bar graphs and statistics. You can save this information to track your progress as well. Again, I turn off the voice reminders that break into my music to inform me of my progress, but you can adjust this yourself in the settings of RunKeeper. Also in the settings you are able to set the items you would like to see on the screen such as time, distance, pace, etc.
If you forget your phone and workout without it, you can add this information by hand by selecting the Log button. This is also helpful if you are staying in one place on a treadmill or elipticle. Walk Tracker Pro did not have this option. RunKeeper also has an area to set goals that, Walk Tracker Pro did not have, such as losing weight or running a marathon 6 months from now. An odd quirk of the program is that you must set the future date starting with the year. If you start by changing the month or the day without changing the year first, the program can see the date as in the past and the dial will bounce back to today’s date every time. Like Walk Tracker Pro, RunKeeper delivers the option of uploading your workout information to your friends via Facebook, Google, or by email. You may also set a reminder to exercise at a certain time of the day which is helpful for those of us who get engrossed in our work and lose track of time. Unfortunately, this did not work when I set it.
I was also surprised to see a screen of splits so that you can compare your pace from the first mile to the last mile and see where you may need to push yourself. At the end of my 2 mile walk on flat ground (not very challenging but enough to get data into the app for the screenshots) I was rewarded;

I just put in my email but as of yet did not receive my reward coupon. Perhaps I typed my address wrong?
It is no wonder this app is very popular among runners. It is very easy to use and seems to have all the necessary items anyone would need to track, and improve their workouts.

Exercise Software App Review Series; Walk Tracker Pro

Welcome to my new series exploring technical advancements to help all of us track our exercise progress.  Whether you are an exercise novice or a seasoned athlete, you will benefit from this series.

We begin with IPhone Apps, specifically Walk Tracker Pro which has been my personal favorite for two years now.  It uses a GPS signal to tell me how far I have walked, and I can control my music choices right from that app.  You, of course, need to have your music selection already downloaded to your phone.  Then you may start the music, pause it, or change it right from the Walk Tracker Pro app.

There is a voice that will break into the music to let you know the distance you have traveled, your average pace, and the calories you have burned.  Since this is also tracked on the display, I typically turn off these announcements and just enjoy my music or audio tape.

It contains nice bar or line graphs showing your progress.  It can be used whether walking, running, or cycling but it does not recognize a combination of exercises and records everything under the type of exercise you chose to begin the workout.

Walk Tracker Pro can be used on any IPad, IPod, or IPhone with an iOS (operating system) version 5.0 or higher. Each workout can be saved.  I use that feature to know the distance of each of my routes and about how long they will last.  When I walk or run on my lunch hour, I don’t want to be late getting back.  If I want to add a meditation to the end of my workout, I will look in my history to choose a shorter route.  By default, the app saves the workout by date and time, but you can use any name you wish.  I typically name the workout for the route I took.  For example I will name it “Once around Campus” or “Long way around Campus” or “Short trip around water falls”, etc.

The only complaint I have is that the use of the phone’s GPS tends to drain the phone’s battery even when you are finished using the app.  To get around this, you have to turn off the GPS to disengage it from Walk Tracker Pro.  I typically keep it turned off until I need it again.  This can be done in the phone’s Settings App in the Privacy setting, then turn off Location Services.

I also use the display’s Elapsed Time seconds to count my heart rate. I begin counting my pulse when the seconds read x4 (example; 04, 14, 24, 34 and so on).  I keep counting my pulse until the display reads x0 (10, 20, 30 etc.) which means that I have been counting my pulse for 6 seconds.  Then I add a zero to the back of the number of pulses I counted which gives me my beats per minute (60 seconds). I wish there was a way to record the heart rate but this one does not have that feature.

It even has a graphic display of the route you took which takes advantage of the Pinching zoom-in, zoom-out feature of the operating system.  The display can be viewed either in portrait or landscape mode as well.  You can also sign up with free, upload your progress and brag about it on Facebook to your friends.  I, admittedly, have never used this feature since I prefer to keep my workouts private.

In reading other reviews, there was apparently problems with versions 14.0 and 14.1.  Some people had trouble launching the app, others report it crashing while in use.  I have used this product for years and have not seen these issues.  After several updates over the years, I am now using version 14.3.3 without any issues.

The app costs a very reasonable $2.99 in the app store which is well worth the money.  I have always found this app to be very accurate in both time and distance and is very easy to use.  If you would like to be successful tracking your progress right out of the gate without much fuss and bother, Walk Tracker Pro is a good app to use.

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This news was posted on Saturday, August 24th, 2013
tagged: Fitness, Tips, Uncategorized, Wellness | tags :, , , , ,

How to stay motivated to working out.


Recently a friend of my Father’s, a man who has been a runner and very active his whole life, told me he really missed the workout.  Since his wife became too sick with Alzheimer’s to fend for herself and he has needed to care for her, he has given up the workout.

I could sense the disappointment in his voice and didn’t want to see him loose such an important part of himself.   So I suggested the following;

  1. Put your wife in a wheelchair and instead of running, walk briskly pushing her.  The extra  weight or tension of the wheelchair will replace the vigor of the run. Your wife will be invigorated by the fresh air and you can point out all the pretty flowers and trees you see along the way.
  2. Ask friends and neighbors to go with you.  Statistics show that people are more likely to keep to their workout schedule if they have others with which to share the experience.  Going with others will be stimulating for your conversation and keep your wife connected to the outside world as well.
  3. The workout has been a part of your life long enough to become a part of who you are.  Don’t give that up! We all need to make changes over the years.  Workouts are no different.  So change it;  don’t eliminate it.

He replied back to me, “These are GREAT ideas!  Oh, this is going to be so much FUN!”

I was very happy to help.  It was my father who taught this man to run as they were High School buddies. Now that my Father has passed on, it was only fitting that I should continue the work he started.

What’s your workout challenge?

Time? – - Budget it as you would a check book that can only contain 24 dollars (like hours) at a time.  Account for the necessities first; 8 hours to sleep, 9-10 hours for working and commuting, which leaves approximately 6 hours of discretionary time.  Now account for other necessities in your lifestyle (second job, bathing the children, cooking meals) with the rest of the time in your bank decide how to spend it.  Now transfer this information to a date organizer and see where everything fits neatly together.

Interruptions?  – -  Go to a gym or away from you normal environment and turn off the cell phone for an hour.  The world won’t stop and some of those questions you would normally get asked may just work themselves out before you get back.

Don’t know what to do?  – - Ask for help from your local gym.  There are so many options here I am sure you will be able to find one that is right for you.

Workouts are boring! – - Join a class that looks interesting.  Find a Personal Trainer who thinks outside the box to help give you ideas.  Tell him/her the things you enjoy doing and ask them to design a workout that will include those movements.  Then while you are working out, just imagine you are doing the things you enjoy, rather than the boring workout.  Buy a Wii game and get some programs that interest you.  Design your own workout.  Choose something that is fun and right for you.

Fatigue? – - If your reason for not working out is that you are too tired, then you really DO NEED that workout! It will give you instant energy and vitality if done right.  Start out slowly, light stretching, balancing on one foot, and walking, for 5 – 10 minutes. Then progress to 20 or 30 minutes of a more brisk workout at a steady pace, and end with another light activity followed by stretching again. Remember that to feel better long-term, this has to be a lifestyle change from your current, sedentary, fatigue-ridden lifestyle.  The habit of PERSISTENCE is the key!

In closing I would like to remind you again that the key to continued workout is; PERSISTENCE and FUN!

Do you have your own remedies for a failed workout?  I would love to hear them.


This news was posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
tagged: Disease, Emotional Upsets, Fitness, Tips, Wellness | tags :, , , , , , , ,

Colds/Flu How to avoid/reduce them

Here is a great article by Dr. Mercola about colds and flu that I will be sharing with my class tonight. Some of this information is new even to me. He also has a short video that is very informative!


Something I have been telling people most of my career is that when you get sick it is best to KEEP to your workout routine but perform it at a reduced intensity. Do fewer repetitions and raise your heart rate only to about half of your normal workout.  Raising your body temperature helps to kill-off the offending virus and to circulate blood faster which will help the white blood cells to get to the infection faster.

Of course, if you don’t work out at all, now would not be the time to start. Simply stay as active as you feel able. The more you move the muscles, the more you will be moving your immune system into action.  For people with no scheduled workout routine, you might be better off controlling the symptoms with organic suppliments like Vitamin C (this doctor suggests using acerola for its added properties boosting the immune system), Vitamin D (of course there is no substitute for summer sunshine), and Zinc. Dr. Mercola also suggests using  (some of which are new to me) Oregano Oil, propolis, Olive leaf extract as an immune booster, and eliminating sugar of ALL types, even organic ones. Sugar feeds the “bad bacteria” and suppresses the immune system.

Also suggested in this article is to put drops of Hydrogen Peroxide (about 1/2 capful) in one ear allowing time for it to work for several minutes, then repeat in the other ear. There have been no studies suggesting that this will reduce your viral infection, but this doctor claims to have hundreds of cases of anecdotal evidence that it works. It is inexpensive and if you happen to have some at home, you might want to try it.

Mushrooms, as Dr. Mercela states, if used proactively (meaning before you get the infection) can be used as an immune booster.  As with all immune boosters, they should be taken BEFORE you get sick to ward off the infection as you get it and before you know you have it. Here he does not state which variety of Mushrooms he might be talking about, so I get the impression they all have similar properties. Please make sure you are obtaining them from a reliable source to avoid poisoning.

Stress is another leading factor that reduces your immune system allowing viruses the opportunity to multiply. Stress releases Cortesol which suppresses the immune response. Control stress by reducing the stressors, meditation,  or prayer. For example, if it is your job that is causing the stress, perhaps you should be looking for a different job; one that fulfills you rather than drains you. Meditation and prayer both reduce the body’s fight or flight response and allows it to rejuvenate. Exercise will also help to “burn off” (for lack of a better description) the fight or flight hormones produced by the body. But even this should not be thought of as a “cure for major stress”. The only “cure” is to make lifestyle changes to reduce the stress and use regular exercise and meditation/prayer to manage the daily stress we can’t change.

Please read the article at the link above. I found it very informative.

So get out the supplements, prioritize meditation, and get active!  Boost that immune system before you think you need it!


How to Get Started

Get Started

1. Get a check up and ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for physical activity. He/she might have ideas of the type of program that might be good for you.
2. Begin with a small class AND do your own simple workout in your home or walking in a safe neighborhood with a friend on the days the class does not meet.
3. Remember that just because the instructor and the class is doing it, does not make it right for you. If it hurts don’t do it! Just continue to move in a way that does not hurt until you can rejoin the class activity.
4. Start with small, simple movements and slowly work your way up to more difficult movements. Remember to patient with your progress.

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